A few months ago I met a woman. Don’t worry; this isn’t one of those I-met-a-girl-and-now-I’m-infatuated-and-I-don’t-know-what-to-do stories. Through the time that we’ve known each other we have become quite good friends. It has become a relationship that is so honest that I can’t really handle it sometimes. It makes me angry and happy and sad all at the same time. Shortly after meeting this woman I found out that she is afraid of getting older.
It’s called Gerascophobia. Like any phobia it is characterized as being an irrational fear. I don’t really understand this. I’m the kind of person that can’t wait to see what the next day/month/year brings. I like to think of waking up as a daily surprise party. You woke up! SURPRISE! You have a package waiting for you on the front step! SURPRISE! You drove to and from work and didn’t die! SURPRISE! Maybe that’s just my own naïve nature manifesting itself in my humdrum daily life. Maybe I’m more of an optimist than I like to make myself out to be. Maybe it’s both. Who knows?
The point is, when I talk to this woman, this smart, funny, beautiful, kind of crazy, carnivore of a woman, I have no clue how to make her not afraid. A fear as irrational as this takes a steady hand. Through trial and error I’ve found that simply saying, “try not to think about it” doesn’t work nor does, “since we’ve started this conversation, you have grown one hour older.” But, I think that is a valid point.
If you are reading this sentence and have been reading since the first sentence you are officially older than you were when you started. CONGRATULATIONS! Some people may tell you that life is not a race; they’re wrong. Life is a race against yourself where the starting line is birth and the finish line is your death. The interesting part is that nobody knows when the race ends.
Consider this: if you knew when you were going to die, would you live the life you are living right now?
Unless you have a major trust fund and can do anything you want with your life or are happy living as just another extra in the movie that is more interesting lives, the answer is unequivocally, NO!
No matter what you believe, religiously or philosophically (with a few exceptions) there are two overwhelming truths: 1.) Life is precious, and 2.) The story of life goes the way YOU want it to. You can choose your own adventure in everything you do. TURN TO PAGE 30 IF YOU climb the tree. TURN TO PAGE 101 IF YOU sit on the couch and watch 7 hours of The Walking Dead while nursing a massive hangover. TURN TO PAGE 62 IF YOU tell her that you love her for the first time.
When I read a book I read the last page first. I’ve done this since I was in second grade since reading R.L. Stine’s The Cuckoo Clock of Doom for the first time. This is something that has stuck with me for over twenty years. I think this philosophy of reading books translates to my philosophy for life and correlates to the last piece of advice I am able to give to my new friend, and all other millennials who are in her shoes. It is not important how you end your story. The most important part is how you get there.